My grandmother passed away last night, from complications following a stroke she suffered two weeks ago. Sadie Anna Nicholson was 85.

Grammie Nicholson wasn’t my natural grandmother, really a step-gram, but you’d never know. Being a grandma came naturally. She was a sweet and very loving woman who embraced her new grandkids without hesitation. I’m sure at first she wasn’t wild about the idea of her son marrying an older woman with three kids, but it all worked out in the end, and we kids never felt like we were somehow less important. Gram was classy that way. Once she made up her mind about something, she stuck with it. She decided to love us, and how can anyone resist feeling the same back?

The story of Gram’s demise includes a beautiful image. Two weeks ago, my uncle had arranged to pick her up for dinner (she still lived in her own house). When he arrived she was standing waiting for him on her front step. She was dressed for dinner, with her hair done, and her slippers tucked as usual in her coat pocket. She was holding a bottle of her home made pickles, her contribution to dinner. She walked to the car, got in, turned to my uncle, said “Oh,” as if she didn’t know who he was, then continued talking nonsense — mixing up her words. They drove to the hospital. She walked in on her own. But Gram was gone – her memory, her personality, Gram! – and she never came back.

Uncle Ron thinks she had her stroke while she was waiting on the step. In a sense, she left this earth dressed for dinner, holding some mustard pickles. That’s how I want to go.

A few years ago we made a batch of her pickles together, with cucumbers grown at Walden Cabin. Here’s the recipe.

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